The recent death of Fred Uhlman at the age or eighty-four is of more far-reaching significance than it might appear; for, quite apart from the sadness felt by those who knew him personally, it reminds one that a whole generation of central European emigres who came to this country in the 1930s and contributed so much to British culture, is gradually disappearing.
Born in Stuttgart in 1901, Uhlman trained in law at the universities of Munich, Freiburg and Tübingen and became well-known as an anti-Nazi lawyer. It was after leaving Germany for Paris in 1933 that he turned to painting, an activity that pre-occupied him more and more thereafter. Arriving in England in 1936 and settling in Hampstead, he and his wife, Diana Croft, played a vital part in the activities of Artists International Association and the Free German League of Culture, their home at 47 Downshire Hill providing a welcome haven for large numbers of emigre artists and intellectuals.
While his paintings and drawings have always been appreciated by the discerning few, he will, perhaps, be best remembered for his role in the “heroic” years of Hampstead’s cultural life and for the two books he wrote: The Making of an Englishman, an autobiography published in 1960 and Reunion, a short and poignant novel hailed by Arthur Koestler as a masterpiece.
Jewish Quarterly Autumn 1985